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Isle of Wight Gallery Fine Art & Photography

William Johnstone OBE lithographs

William Johnstone OBE

William Johnstone OBE (1897-1981) was a Scottish artist known for his contributions to the development of modern art in Scotland. He played a significant role in the promotion of abstract art and modernism in the country during the 20th century. Here are some key points about his life and career: Early Life and Education: William Johnstone was born on August 4, 1897, in Denholm, Scotland. He studied at the Edinburgh College of Art, where he was trained in a traditional academic style of painting. However, he was also influenced by the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, such as Cubism and Futurism. Transition to Abstraction: In the 1920s and 1930s, Johnstone began to move away from representational art and embraced abstraction. He was particularly drawn to the work of artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich, who were pioneers in abstract art. Edinburgh School of Art: Johnstone became a key figure in the Edinburgh School of Art, a group of artists who were at the forefront of introducing modernist and abstract art to Scotland. He, along with other members of the school, including William Gillies and Anne Redpath, played a pivotal role in challenging traditional artistic conventions. Teaching Career: Johnstone was a respected art teacher and taught at various institutions, including the Edinburgh College of Art. He influenced many younger artists, helping to spread the ideas of abstraction and modernism in Scotland. OBE Recognition: In 1971, William Johnstone was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to art. This recognition reflected his significant contributions to the art world, both as an artist and an educator. Artistic Style: Johnstone's abstract works often featured geometric shapes, bold colors, and a sense of dynamic movement. He had a unique approach to abstraction, combining elements of Scottish landscape and nature with modernist principles. Legacy: William Johnstone's legacy in Scottish art is notable for his role in challenging traditional artistic norms and promoting the acceptance of abstract art in Scotland. He remains an important figure in the history of Scottish modernism, and his works can be found in various collections and museums. William Johnstone's dedication to modern art and his influence on the Scottish art scene helped pave the way for future generations of artists to explore abstraction and modernist techniques. His commitment to pushing artistic boundaries and embracing new ideas left a lasting impact on the art world in Scotland and beyond.

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